Dancing With The Community

This blog is for an Asian Ameican Studies class at University of Washington Bothell.

Having a passion can influence your life and others around you. People have a passion for many different types of art such as drawing, singing, dancing, poetry, and music. Art is known as the expression of human creativity and imagination. My passion is B-boying. I’ve been B-boying for seven years and I can safely say that dancing has changed my life in so many positive ways. A major inspiration of B-boying that I had is from Massive Monkees. Who is Massive Monkees? One of the greatest B-boy crews in Seattle, Washington is Massive Monkees. Massive Monkees is known around the world for winning 2004 World B-boy Championships in London. They’re also known as 2012 International B-boy R-16 winners, which became the very first American crew to win the R-16 event in history. They were also on an MTV TV Series named American’s Best Dance Crew in 2009 – 2010. Massive Monkees have been known for winning big tournaments and also giving back to the community by hosting classes to children, teenagers and even adults on hip hop dancing and breaking. These artists are important in the Asian Community because they give back to the community in the international district in Seattle and they raise awareness in many different ways; which is why I chose my artist group to be Massive Monkees.

A common question that would come up is, what is B-boying / B-girling?  The term is used for break boy or break girl. Breaking is a variation of hip hop dancing. The type of dancing was created in the 1970’s by African American and Puerto Rican youths in New York City. They’re many moves but the basic moves consist of toprock, footwork, power moves, and freezes. Breakers tend to dance to a variety of music such as hip hop, funky music and many other variety of tempo music.  Now in 2016, breaking is very popular all over the world. Competitions are very important in the breaking community. They’re tournaments for charities, fundraisers, and even donations in Seattle every month. I’ve attended charity events for people in need of money for surgery, charity events for Japan when they were hit by the tsunami, and even for a popular organization called Invisible Children who save children in Africa from being kidnapped and abducted. Breaking has spread worldwide due to the media through films, television, literature, games, and thousands of music videos.

 

The Massive Monkees have made a big impact in the Seattle’s community. They’ve been teaching students the elements of hip hop and breaking for over three years in Seattle. They provide classes in their studio for the children starting at two years old. They have classes specifically for ages two through six, which shows basic concepts of a few break moves and mainly dance games to have the children express themselves and have a good time. They’re also all ages classes for hip hop, jazz, choreography, and even voguing. The main reason why they opened up a studio, have open practices, and classes is because Massive Monkees wants to share their dancing experience with the community and keep children off the streets from mischief.

Here is a film clip where one of the members of Massive Monkees teach students to improve their foundation to learn intermediate moves. Now students begin to get a sense and develop their own style:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9taO_ludds

This video clip is a level two class that is eight weeks long which is for children from six years old to eight years old. The children are taught basic ideas and pointers to become a B-boy / B-girl. In the short clip, you will see the children warm up and listen to the music to get their bodies warmed up. The teacher makes sure to have the children warm up and stretch just to make sure that nothing gets pulled and it would be less likely to injure themselves. The teacher then teaches children a basic routine to follow together as a class and moves so they can incorporate it into their set. A cypher is when there is a circle where people are just taking turns to free style or show their set to the public. After that, we see the whole class participating in a cypher. You can tell that the teacher really wants the students to have fun and express themselves in their dance. He also tells the student that to take their time and if they are having trouble going into the cypher or even toprocking. Toprocking is the movement when someone is only on their feet. You can also see that the whole class is giving positive encouragement to make the class feel more welcoming and more comfortable for the children.

Here is another clip of Massive Monkees member Jerome Aparis teaching student very simple moves at the Seattle Filipino Community Center for an event called the Massive Relief.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZwZbe7V8mI

Massive Relief was a charity event for the typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2009. After the teaching session, you see a cypher going on just to entertain the audience. After the cypher ended, there was a battle that took place. Massive Monkees also performed for the audience as well. One of the main reasons why I chose this video is because the video shows how Massive Monkees affected the community even back in 2009. They wanted to make a difference in the Asian American culture and give back to the community to hold a charity event to help people in the Philippines. Just from that event, the charity even ended up raising a bit over $10,000 for one night.

 

The Massive Monkees studio is located in the international district in Seattle near the Century Link Field. The address to Massive Monkees: The Beacon is 664 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104 Opening the location in the international district really does play a big role in the Asian American community because Massive Monkees are placing the studio where a large portion of the Asian community live in. Yes, the studio is open to all cultures, and ethnicities but if you look on the demographics of the international district; Asian Americans are the highest in percentage at 46.88%. (Areavibes.com) That is nearly half of the whole population in the international district. Many Asian Americans or people who want to learn more about the Asian American culture go to international districts for events and the variety of food there. Massive Monkees often has events at their studio as well and many people who want to learn more about the Asian American culture usually see it while they walk to their destination and some people actually even come in to watch the events. An article that really stood out to me is Charles Lam’s article on Massive Monkees called “Massive Monkees Light a Beacon”.

Massive Monkees light a Beacon — Seattle dance crew build dreams

Charles Lam talks about how Massive Monkees studio: The Beacon. Massive Monkees were always invited all over Seattle to teach students dancing. What Massive Monkees really wanted was a home and a hub to where they can teach their own programs, hold events and venues at their own location. Out of all the four hundred applicants for the location, Storefront decided to choose Massive Monkees to give the location to because Storefront loved how the purpose of the location and the purpose of Massive Monkees is to interact and give back to the community. The location gives youth a safe environment to be themselves and to bring a positive and productive place to stay away from dangerous neighborhoods.

What Massive Monkees does is really a blessing. They enforce the youth to accept who they are and embrace who they are and encourage them to take their arts to another level. In American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, the main character Jin Wang is bullied throughout the whole book because of his ethnicity. Jin Wang is an Asian American elementary student and just because he is an Asian, the class makes jokes about him and laughs at him for the common stereotypes. When the teacher first introduced Jin Wang to the class, the teacher automatically assumes that he’s from China when he actually moved from San Francisco. Students in the classroom make fun of him about eating dogs, having arranged marriage and even calling him a chink. Because he is bullied, he begins to dislike his own race. After some time of continuation of being bullied for being Asian, a new student arrives to the class named Wei-Chen Sun. The moment that Jin Wang saw Wei-Chin, Jin Wang already disliked him. Wei-Chen was also being bullied as well and tried to make friends with Jin Wang. Unfortunately for Wei-Chin, Jin Wang didn’t want to be friends with him or even talk to him. Because of all of these stereotypes and being bullied, Jin Wang begins to dislike his own race. If some sort of miracle happened and Jin Wang met Massive Monkees, the outcome would be completely different. Massive Monkees is all about be positive and helping the youth, and if Jin Wang were to meet them, they would positively enforce Jin Wang and convince him that he should be proud of who he is and express himself.

In conclusion I honestly think that everyone should really check out Massive Monkees studio: The Beacon at least once. They really have impacted the community and made a difference in hundreds of people’s lives whether it’s from across the world or to even youths in Seattle. They are really popular in the B-boying / B-girling community but I really think that they deserve more spotlight for all the work that they have done. They are a positive, changing, encouraging, and inspiring group to meet. To learn more about their achievements and their work, check out their videos on youtube and this link here:

http://www.massivemonkees.com/thecrew/massive-accomplishments/

 

Citations:

“International District, Seattle, WA Demographics.” International District, Seattle, WA Population & Demographics. AreaVibes, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

PlaceboEffect. “Massive Monkeys Teach Kids Breakdancing.” YouTube. YouTube, 18 Oct. 2009. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

Monkees, Massive. “BREAK ACADEMY | LEVEL TWO.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 Oct. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

Lam, Charles. “Massive Monkees Light a Beacon – Seattle Dance Crew Build Dreams.” – Northwest Asian Weekly |. Asian Weekly, 24 Jan. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

Yang, Gene Luen., and Lark Pien. American Born Chinese. New York: First Second, 2006. Print.

 

Images Used:

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